September 24, 2003
|Initial Target:||Decatur, IL|
|Departure:||Urbana, IL 4:00 pm CDT|
|Arrival:||Urbana, IL 7:00 pm CDT|
|Bust. Slight risk for squall line activity but it never materialized. Targeted Decatur Illinois, but on arrival found only overcast skies and intermittent rain. Grabbed some grub at McDonald's, evaluated the situation with a few phone calls and headed home.|
Crew and Equipment:
|One vehicle chase team included: Jenny Acosta. Nowcasting courtesy Adam Nekola. Equipment consisted of a TH-F6 tri-band transceiver, NOAA weather radio, and cell phone.|
I guess you could call this a desperate chase. The weather was starting to cool off for the year and I was hoping to get in one last storm before the year ended. The forecast was calling for a slight risk of severe wind across central Illinois. The tornado threat was minimal so the plan was to catch some good squall line storm structure.
|This was also my first chase equipped with a new ham radio. Its a handheld Kenwood TH-56. Transceiver on the 2m, 220, and 440 bands. I was hoping to pickup, and perhaps participate in some spotter traffic. SPC's wind probability graphic at left:||
|I admit that the Storm Prediction Center's forecast products
are my primary data source for planning a chase. A good chaser will
plot their own forecast and maybe compare it with SPC's for reassurance or
further insight. I, however, am not on that level yet.
I do know the ingredients that make a good storm, though. After analyzing some data from NCAR I chose Decatur as the initial target area. Dew points looked good and the CAPE was decent. As I would find out later, however, the atmosphere was still lacking some vital conditions.
|SPC issued a Mesoscale Discussion for a possible blue box around 3pm.
This was enough to get me out the door. Leaving Urbana, the sky looked
pretty decent: a cumulus field that I hoped would fire a few towers as the
front moved through. The further we drove West though, the more the
sky clouded over with stratus.
|Arriving in Decatur, we found overcast skies and light rain. Things were looking pretty bleak. We pulled over at McDonald's and called Adam for a radar update. I scanned the bands looking for some ham traffic and came up empty. We called it quits, ate a nice leisurely fast food meal, and headed back home.|
|I looked over what had happened when I got back. The few storms that did fire were in Indiana and Michigan but most were non-severe. There were only two or three severe reports anywhere and no tornadoes. It was a bust all around.|
|Two days later more weather moved through the area. A
tornado watch went up with a severe thunderstorm warning for Champaign
county. Classes and other plans kept me from chasing it, however.
I read on the newsgroups that a few went out but they also busted.
Spring is only a few months away.